Military Review

The truth about barrage units (part of 1)

Beginning with the Khrushchev's “thaw,” heartbreaking stories about how Stalin's detachments allegedly shot our retreating units during the Great Patriotic War firmly entered into the folklore of the so-called “Sixties”. In the companies sitting in the kitchens, freethinking intellectuals could often hear a song played along with a guitar that had something like this:

"This company was advancing through the swamp,
And then she was ordered and she went back.
This company was shot from a machine gun
Its own defensive squad.

And today, those who are haunted by the indisputable fact that the Victory in the Great Patriotic War has been achieved under the leadership of Stalin continue to actively exploit the subject of the frontier troops.
Therefore it is necessary to understand what was the real purpose of the frontier detachments and what powers they had?

Detention of a suspicious item

It should be immediately noted that the term “defensive squad” itself is rather vague: “A detachment, or detachment of barriers, is a permanent or temporary military unit created to perform a combat or special task.” Who forms the detachment, to whom he submits, what specific tasks he performs - from this definition is not visible. In addition, during the war, the departmental affiliation, composition and functions of detachments changed several times.

As you know, in early February 1941, the People’s Commissariat of Internal Affairs was divided into the NKVD itself and the People’s Commissariat of State Security (NKGB). At the same time, military counterintelligence, according to the decree of the Council of People's Commissars of the USSR and the Central Committee of the All-Union Communist Party of Bolsheviks of February 8, 1941, was separated from the NKVD and transferred to the People’s Commissariats of Defense and the Naval Fleet USSR, where the Third Departments of the NPO of the USSR and the NKVMF of the USSR were created.

27 June 1941 of the Year The Third Directorate of the USSR People's Commissariat of Defense issues Directive No. 35523 on the work of its bodies in wartime. In particular, it provided for:

"The organization of mobile control and barrage detachments on roads, railway junctions, for clearing forests, etc., allocated by the command, with the inclusion in their composition of operational workers of the Third Management with the tasks:

a) the detention of deserters;
b) the detention of the entire suspicious element that penetrated the front line;
c) a preliminary investigation carried out by operative workers of the Third NPO Directorate (1 – 2 of the day) with the subsequent transfer of material together with detainees according to jurisdiction ”(Bodies of USSR State Security in the Great Patriotic War. T.2. Beginning. Book 1. 22 June - 31 August 1941 year. M., 2000. C. 92 – 93).

As we see, initially the barrage detachments were to carry out only the detention of deserters, as well as the suspicious element hanging around the front line and conduct a preliminary investigation, and then transfer the detainees to the appropriate judicial bodies.

In July 1941, the NKVD and the NKGB are merged. 17 July 1941, by the decision of the State Defense Committee No. XXUMXss, the bodies of the Third Directorate of NGOs are transformed into special departments and also come under the authority of the NKVD. Among other things, this contributed to the establishment of a closer link between them and the territorial state security bodies. At the same time, special departments are granted the right to arrest deserters and, if necessary, to execute them on the spot (ibid. C.187 – 337).

The next day, the USSR People's Commissar for Internal Affairs, LP Beria, in his directive No. XXUMX, explained the tasks of the special departments:

“The meaning of the transformation of the Third Authority into special departments with the subordination of the NKVD is to lead a merciless fight against spies, traitors, saboteurs, deserters and all sorts of alarmists and disorganizers.

Ruthless reprisals against alarmists, cowards, deserters who undermine power and discredit the honor of the Red Army are just as important as fighting espionage and sabotage ”(Ibid. C.346).

To ensure operational activities by order of the NKVD of the USSR No. 00941 from 19 in July 1941, separate rifle platoons were formed in special divisions and corps, individual rifle companies in special divisions of the armies, and separate rifle battalions staffed in special divisions of the fronts (NKVD troops) Ibid. C.366).

Shooting Estonian bandits

In carrying out their tasks, special departments, in particular, put barrage detachments in the rear of our troops.

A memorandum from the Chief of 3 Division of the Red Banner Baltic Fleet of Divisional Commissar Lebedev No. 21431 from December 10 of December 1941 to the Military Council of the Red Banner Baltic Fleet (USSR State Security Institutions of the Great Patriotic War. Beginning. Book 2. September 2 - December 1 (31, M., 1941. C. 2000 – 397).

The defensive squad at the 3 division of the Red Banner Baltic Fleet was formed in June 1941. He was a motorized maneuverable company. To strengthen it on the initiative of the 3-department at one of the enterprises in Tallinn were made two homemade armored vehicles.

Initially, the detachment acted on the territory of Estonia. In order to combat desertion, barriers were set up on the roads leading to Tallinn and Leningrad. However, since the land front was quite far away at that moment, there were few desertions in the area of ​​responsibility. In this regard, the main efforts of the detachment and the group of operational workers assigned to it were aimed at combating the gangs of Estonian nationalists hiding in the forests and swamps.

A significant number of small gangs, consisting mainly of members of the organization "Kiteselit", operated mainly on highways, attacking small units of the Red Army and individual servicemen. As a result of the work of the detachment in the first days of the war, six bandits were caught in the Loks area, one of whom was killed while trying to escape. According to undercover information, at the same time three people were arrested on charges of aiding the bandits.

Practice has shown that in the areas of gang activity it is very important to have informers in grocery stores, cafes and canteens of small settlements, as gangster groups from time to time were forced to buy food, matches, cartridges, etc., sending for this to their villages representatives. During one of these visits to the rural grocery store, four bandits were discovered by two intelligence officers from the frontier detachment. Despite the numerical superiority of the latter tried to detain them. As a result, one of the gangsters was killed in a shootout, the two managed to escape, the fourth, although, as it turned out, in the past he was the Estonian champion in running, he could not escape. He was wounded, captured and taken to the 3 department.

The raids carried out by the detachment, combing the terrain, secrets and outposts significantly hampered the actions of the Estonian gangs, and the cases of armed attack in those areas that the detachment controlled were sharply reduced.

When the Virtsu Peninsula was liberated as a result of the 8 Army's counterstroke in mid-July 1941, a platoon of detachment and a group of operational workers left for the area to carry out the operation to clean up the peninsula from those hostile to the Soviet government and assisting the fascists. On the way to Virtsu, a platoon of detachments abruptly crashed into German outposts at the Virtsu-Pärnu road junction in the Karuz farm. The platoon was fired rifle-machine-gun and mortar fire of the enemy, dismounted and took the fight. As a result of the battle, the Germans, leaving the anti-tank gun, machine gun and ammunition, hastily retreated. The loss of the detachment was 6 people killed and 2 injured.

Having transferred the defenses of the repulsed area to regular units, a platoon of detachment arrived in Virtsu. The task force immediately deployed the work, which resulted in the arrest of the head of the local organization “Kaitselit”, two former members of this organization who consisted in the “self-defense” formation created by the German command, the owner of a local restaurant, used by the Germans as a translator, and an instigator who betrayed the fascist authorities two agents of our border guard. Among the population of Virtsu, 6 informers were recruited.

In the same period, an operation was carried out to clear the gangs of M. Varbla and the village. Tystamaa, Pärnovsky County. Two platoons of the detachment, reinforced by armored vehicles, together with a fighter battalion with a battle, captured the specified settlements, smashing the “self-defense” headquarters and capturing an easel machine gun, 60 bicycles, over 10 telephones, several hunting rifles and rifles. Among the bandits were killed and wounded, captured 4 gangsters were shot on the spot. Our losses - 1 killed. In Tallinn, the counter-revolutionary organization engaged in recruiting local people into gangs was opened and liquidated by detachments. At the same time were seized weapon and explosives.

In addition to the fight against banditry and desertion, the task force detachment has launched work on casting our agents in the German rear. Of the abandoned three agents, two returned. Having penetrated the occupied city of Pärnu, they found out the location of German military facilities. Using this information, aviation The Baltic Fleet was bombed by enemy targets, the results of the bombing were positive. In addition, information was collected about local minions of the occupiers from among Estonian nationalists.

During the battle for Tallinn, the detachment not only stopped and returned to the front of the retreating, but also kept defensive lines. Particularly difficult situation was the day of August 27. Separate parts of the 8 Army, having lost their leadership, leaving the last line of defense, fled. To restore order, not only the detachment was abandoned, but the entire operational staff of the 3 division. Retreating under the threat of weapons stopped and as a result of a counterattack they threw the enemy 7 kilometers away. It played a crucial role in the successful evacuation of Tallinn.

The fact that at the same time the NKVD fighters did not hide behind other people's backs is evidenced by the losses suffered by the detachment during the battles for Tallinn - over 60% of personnel, including almost all commanders.

Arriving in Kronstadt, the detachment immediately began to recruit and already 7 September 1941, sent one platoon with two operatives to serve on the southern coast of the Gulf of Finland, and by September 18 the coast from Oranienbaum to der. The mouth was fully serviced by the squad.

Since the beginning of the war on 22 November, 1941 was detained by more than 900 people, of whom 77 was arrested and convicted. In this case, 11 people were shot on the spot or in front of the line.

Four percent arrested

By the beginning of September 1941, the military situation had deteriorated significantly. In this situation, the Supreme Command Headquarters with directive No. 001650 of 5 of September 1941 of the year satisfied the request of Lieutenant-General A.I. Yeremenko, commander of the Bryansk Front:

“The stake has familiarized with your memorandum and allows you to create barrage units in those divisions that have proven to be unstable. The purpose of the barrage detachments is to prevent unauthorized withdrawal of parts, and in the case of flight, stop by using weapons if necessary ”(USSR State Security Institutions in the Great Patriotic War. T.2. Book 2. С.20).

A week later, this practice was extended to all fronts:

"Directive of the Supreme Command Headquarters No. XXUMX to the commanders of fronts, armies, division commanders, commander-in-chief of the South-West forces on the creation of barrier units in rifle divisions
12 September 1941 years
The experience of the fight against German fascism showed that in our rifle divisions there are many panicky and outright hostile elements who, at the first pressure from the enemy, drop their weapons, start shouting: “We were surrounded!” And carry the rest of the fighters with them. As a result of such actions of these elements, the division turns to flight, throws the material part and then begins to leave the forest alone. Similar phenomena take place on all fronts. If the commanders and commissars of such divisions were at the height of their task, alarmist and hostile elements could not prevail in the division. But the trouble is that there are not so many solid and stable commanders and commissars.
In order to prevent the above undesirable phenomena on the front of the Supreme Command
1. In each rifle division, have a guard detachment of reliable fighters of no more than a battalion (counting 1 company per rifle regiment), subordinate to the division commander and having at their disposal, in addition to conventional weapons, vehicles in the form of trucks and several tanks or armored vehicles.
2. The tasks of the protective detachment to consider direct assistance to the commanders in maintaining and establishing firm discipline in the division, stopping the flight of panic-stricken military personnel, not stopping to use weapons, eliminating the initiators of panic and flight, supporting honest and combat elements of the division that are not subject to panic but are addicted to common flight.
3. To oblige employees of special divisions and political personnel of divisions to render all possible assistance to division commanders and defensive detachments in strengthening the order and discipline of the division.
4. The creation of barrier units to finish within five days from the date of receipt of this order.
5. On the receipt and execution of the commander of the fronts and armies to convey.
Supreme Command Headquarters
B.Shaposhnikov ”(Ibid. S.85 – 86).

In contrast to the barrage detachments that continued to exist under special departments of the NKVD, which were mainly focused on the detention of deserters and suspicious elements, the army detachments were created with the aim of preventing unauthorized withdrawal of units. These units were much larger (a battalion for a division instead of a platoon) and their personnel were recruited not from NKVD servicemen, but from ordinary Red Army men. They had the right to use weapons - not to shoot the retreating units and subunits from machine guns, but to eliminate the initiators of panic and flight.

A resolution on the Military Council of the Leningrad Front No. 00274 of September 18 of 1941 of the Year “On Strengthening the Struggle against Desertion and the Infiltration of Enemy Elements on the Territory of Leningrad” gives some insight into the functions of the barrage battalions. In this document, signed by the army commander of the Leningrad front, General of the Army G.K. Zhukov and members of the military council of the front 1 secretary of the Leningrad regional committee and the city committee of the CPSU (b) A.A. Zhdanov and 2 secretary A.A. Kuznetsov, Particularly prescribed:

“5. The chief of the military command department (Guarding of the Military Rear - I.P.) of the Leningrad Front, Lieutenant General Comrade. Stepanova to organize for the concentration and verification of all servicemen detained without documents, four barrage detachments.
The Chief of Logistics of the Leningrad Front, Lieutenant General Comrade. Mordvinov organize feeding points at these barrage detachments ”(ibid. S.119).

The current accusers of the totalitarian past assure us that the detachments were engaged only in those that fired at their own people. In this case, it is completely incomprehensible why organizing nutritional points with them? Really in order to feed the shot before the execution?

And here is the final document on the activities of the barrage units in the first months of the war:

"Report of 3 rank X. Milstein, Commissioner of State Security to People's Commissar of Internal Affairs L.P. Beria on the actions of the Special Units and the barrage detachments of the troops of the NKVD of the USSR from the beginning of the war on October 10 1941
Top secret
General Commissioner for State Security
to comrade BERIA
From the beginning of the war through 10 October this year. Special departments of the NKVD and barrage detachments of the NKVD troops for the protection of the rear detained 657 364 military personnel who lagged behind their units and fled from the front.
Of these, 249 969 people and the NKVD troops guarding the rear - 407 395 military personnel were detained by the operational barriers of the Special Divisions.
Of the detainees, the Special Divisions arrested 25 878 people, the remaining 632 486 people formed into units and again sent to the front.
Among those arrested by the Special Divisions are:
Spyware - 1505
saboteurs - 308
traitors - 2621
panties and alarmists - 2643
deserters - 8772
distributors of provocative rumors - 3987
Gunners - 1671
others - 4371
Total - 25 878
According to the decisions of the Special Divisions and the sentences of the Military Tribunals, 10 201 people were shot, they were shot in front of the line - 3321 people.
Deputy Early Office of the NKVD NGO
State Commissioner security xnumx rank
[October] 1941 of the Year ”(Toptygin A.V. Unknown Beria. M. – SPb., 2002. C.439 – 440).

So, from 657 364 detained by detachments and operational barriers of special departments, only 25 878 people were arrested, that is, 4%.

In addition to the barrage battalions in the divisions and barrage detachments formed by special departments, similar units were created by the territorial bodies of the NKVD. Thus, in order to detain the Red Army soldiers leaving the Kalinin Front, October 15 1941, the NKVD in the Kalinin Region organized barrage detachments in the following directions: Kalinin - Kushalino, Kushalino - Goritsy, Kushalino - Zaitsevo, Kimry - Kashin. All of them were subordinated to the 4-th department of the NKVD in the Kalinin region.

From October 15 to 9 December 1941, these defensive units were detained and transferred to the 256 Rifle Division and other military units of 6164 Red Army and 1498 people from the construction battalions. In addition, arrested and prosecuted under Art. 193 of the Criminal Code of the RSFSR 172 deserter (Bodies of the USSR State Security in the Great Patriotic War. T.2. Book 2. С.396).

As the situation on the front improved, the need for barrage battalions in the divisions disappeared.

Continuation here: Part 2
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  1. Pavlo
    Pavlo 26 January 2011 21: 17
    I respect this MAN!